This 37-word email increased new hire productivity by 25%

Around 20% of employees quit within the first 45 days of starting a new job, according to one survey. Another found that 31% quit before their six-month anniversary.

Faced with statistics like those, many leaders are re-thinking their onboarding programs. To engage and retain new employees at Google, Laszlo Bock, the company's former SVP of People, sent a brief email to managers with the following tasks the day before their new Googlers (or Nooglers) started:

1. "Have a role-and-responsibilities discussion.
2. Match your Noogler with a peer buddy.
3. Help your Noogler build a social network.
4. Set up onboarding check-ins once a month for your Noogler's first six months.
5. Encourage open dialogue."

To retain top talent, managers matter

When managers followed the checklist, new hires achieved full productivity in their roles 25% faster.

Google's experiment can teach us three things, according to Michael Schneider, human capital specialist at Welltower.

Takeaway 1: Keep it simple

Schneider confesses that when creating his own onboarding programs, he didn't want to leave anything out. He ended up with extensive checklists of up to 50 items and completely overwhelmed managers. No one likes busywork, so if you want managers to actually adhere to your onboarding checklist, keep it short and sweet.

Takeaway 2: Allow managers to individualize onboarding

In the spirit of keeping it simple, be sure to assign only the most essential onboarding tasks to managers. Leave room for managers to be creative and customize the onboarding experience to fit each individual's strengths, weaknesses, and skill gaps. This allows managers to learn more about their new employees, and provides them with a foundation to build a strong relationship.

"At the end of the day," Schneider writes, "A primary goal of any onboarding program should be to help managers foster better relationships with their employees."

Takeaway 3: Give managers a nudge

Just because you send out a checklist doesn’t mean managers will automatically follow it. Don’t be afraid to encourage managers to complete the tasks by sending them occasional reminders, Schneider writes. In Google's case, Bock's team found that nudging managers actually made them more proactive (Schneider, Inc, 3/29).

Keep reading: For effective onboarding, one size does not fit all

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